Since Amelia Earhart vanished during her flight around the world in 1937, her exact fate has remained a mystery. Over the years, many theories have emerged, but one of the most prominent ones is that Earhart died as a castaway on the island of Nikumaroro, Kiribati.
Yesterday, March 7th, a newly published forensic analysis of a skeleton recovered from the island in 1940 declared that it was “more likely than not” that it belonged to Earhart. But the mystery of Earhart’s disappearance is not yet solved. Get out your tin foil hats and let’s explore some of the more interesting conspiracies surrounding this legend.
1 She was actually a spy.
Some claimed that then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt had hired Earhart to spy on the Japanese. The theory was explored in a 1943 movie called Flight for Freedom, but Earhart’s flight path would not have taken her near Japan at all.
2 The Japanese military captured Earhart.
One popular explanation for the pilot’s disappearance is that she was taken into captivity by Japanese forces after they discovered her on one of the country’s many islands. In 2009, her fourth cousin asserted that it was true, claiming that she died of dysentery while in prison and that her navigator, Fred Noonan, was beheaded by the Japanese. The 2017 discovery of a photograph that allegedly depicted Earhart and Noonan on the Japanese-owned Marshall Islands also seemed to support this theory.
3 She survived.
Several books have posited that Earhart survived the crash of her plane. The theory holds that Earhart was also a spy and survived being held prisoner at the Japanese Imperial Palace until the end of World War II in 1945. After that, she managed to return home to the United States, where she lived under the name “Irene Bolam” until she died in 1982.
4 Earhart’s body was eaten by crabs.
This theory also lines up with the belief that the Nikumaroro skeleton is Earhart’s, but it has a gruesome twist. In this tale, Earhart either died or was wounded when her plane crashed into the island, and the giant coconut crabs living on Nikumaroro ate her remains.
Whatever happened to Earhart may remain a mystery, but she is still one of the most inspirational women in history We hope to someday learn how she died, but until then we’ll learn as much about her life as we can.